2013 is now history and 2014 spreads out before us as an enticing blank canvas. Most of us have taken stock of 2013 and decided we need to see some changes in 2014. We make New Year’s Resolutions– some personal, some business–that will bring greater success in the New Year.

But, content marketers beware! January 17 is the “official” Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day. Just 2-1/2 weeks into the New Year, the best intentions of most people have crashed and burned. Don’t tie your content marketing business goals for 2014 to random or ambiguous New Year’s Resolutions (also known as wishes). There’s a much better way.

Make Content Marketing a True Strategy

Strategy is a plan, a blueprint, a game plan. What this means for content marketing is clarified by Rahel Bailie, author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand and benefits: “It means designing content, not just the copy, but the processes by which you create the content so that everything can be consistent and everything can push out the same message and reach the right people at the right time. It also means having the tools and technologies to be able to do this in a way that’s going to be efficient.”

If you’re not seeing positive results to your content marketing efforts, you may need to go back to the beginning and reassess your activities. Create a plan.

  • Revisit your goals. Do you have clear, measurable goals in place that align with the values and purpose of your company? Do you have measurement tools and analytics in place to track progress of those goals? Set KPIs (key performance indicators) to track what is important.
  • Do strategic planning. Pull all relevant departments into the planning process: sales, marketing, IT, customer service, and the decision-making C-suite executives. Rather than have multiple siloed mini-plans absorbing people and resources, bring everyone together to hammer out a strategy that will meet all the business goals.
    • Create buyer personas based on everything known about your target markets, with each department weighing in on what they know. Your sales people may think everyone’s happy, but customer service may have a different tale to tell. Get down to the nitty-gritty of who your customers really are and what they need and want.
    • Audit your website. Does it need updating? Is it user friendly? Does it reflect who you are as a company? Is it SEO optimized according to Hummingbird, the latest Google search update? Does your content provide real value to users or do you have stale, uninteresting content just for the sake of content? How can you increase traffic?
    • Determine what topics and subjects are interesting and helpful to your customers when creating content. Jay Baer, author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype, explains the importance of being helpful: “Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. It’s massively useful free information that creates long-term trust and kinship between a company and its customers.”
    • Make sure you have the technology infrastructure to manage all the things you do.
    • Be sure the resources (people and budget) are available for your content marketing. Is existing in-house personnel sufficient, or do you need to outsource some of the tasks?
  • Set up an editorial calendar. Your calendar will map out the next 3-6-9-12 months of your content production and publication, putting feet to your plan. Topics will be assigned to writers/creators, publication dates and social media channels set and production responsibilities established. The calendar keeps everyone on the same page, coordinating and organizing all the content to be produced.

Now … Work the Plan

With a deliberate, comprehensive strategy in place, you now just have to keep everyone committed to the plan. Production schedules need to be maintained, publication dates need to be met and content needs to be promoted. By creating specific, target market-focused content, you’ll start to see results.

  • Traffic and leads mean that customer engagement needs to be monitored throughout the buyer journey. Sales and customer service departments need to be prepared. Social media managers need tracking and “social listening” tools to monitor online conversations. CRM (Customer Relationship/Resource Management) systems should be maximized to capture all activity.
  • Keep a consistent flow of fresh, high-value content pushing out to all your media channels.
  • Regularly assess data metrics to see what is working and what is not. With assigned KPIs, you’ll be able to track the progress toward meeting your goals.

Happy New Year!

Just remember, content marketing is not an “overnight success,” it takes time for its full benefits to be actualized. But by using a repeatable content marketing lifecycle of steps, you’ll have a consistent, ongoing process that builds upon itself and generates greater success as the year unfolds.

So make your New Year’s Resolutions around diet and exercise, more or less quality time with the dog, or cutting up those credit cards, but don’t make any content marketing New Year’s Resolutions.

A deliberate, planned strategy will ensure a much happier New Year.

Join the Conversation:

  • What content marketing goals have you set for 2014?
  • How would using a lifecycle of steps or other strategic plan add value to your content marketing efforts?

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